Nov 20, 2006 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
If there was a way for the Fayetteville-Manlius cross country teams to top earning a state Class AA championship, they sure found one.
Further extending a dream season, the girls Hornets won the state Federation championship last Saturday at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls, while Tommy Gruenewald shook off the rare taste of defeat by laying claim to the boys individual Federation title.
Just seven days earlier, at Warwick Valley, F-M’s girls had stunned national powers Hilton and Saratoga Springs to earn the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA title.
Now came the rematch, with F-M, Hilton and Saratoga joined by 24 other top teams in the state, public and private.
As it turned out, the gap between the top three teams (separated by just six points in the AA meet) only grew.
F-M finished with 103 points, while Hilton claimed second place, with 128 points, and Saratoga (142 points) had to hold off Burnt Hills (144 points) to finish third.
Everyone on the Hornets showed improvement, and fed off each other’s speed. This was true up front, where sophomore Kathryn Buchan ran stride for stride with freshman Mackenzie Carter. Buchan finished seventh in 18 minutes, 49.3 seconds, while Carter was eighth in 18:49.9.
To take out the rest of the field, F-M’s other five runners stayed within relative sight, gaining confidence and moving up the standings.
Senior Jessica Hauser finished 47th, in 19:57.4. Right behind her, freshman Molly Malone was 48th in a clocking of 19:59.8.
Another senior, Hilary Hooley, earned 55th place (20:13.0), while eighth-grader Courtney Chapman finished 58th (20:13.5) and Catie Caputo was 63rd, in 20:16.6.
Among those in the team competition, Buchan was sixth, Carter seventh, Hauser 28th, Malone 29th, Hooley 33rd, Chapman 36th and Caputo 38th, numbers that no other team came close to matching.
Now it was the guys’ turn. Gruenewald had stewed for a week after finishing second to Shenendehowa’s Steve Murdock in the state Class AA meet at Warwick, and was itching for another opportunity.
Needless to say, Gruenewald grabbed it. The senior’s relentless, intense pace left Murdock and the other contenders behind.
When he crossed the line in 15 minutes, 40.1 seconds, Gruenewald was 5.4 seconds ahead of Brian Rhodes-Devey (Guilderland) and 7.9 seconds ahead of Murdock. He just missed the Bowdoin Park course record by four-tenths of a second.
Fellow senior Geoff King also excelled, grabbing fifth place in 16:07.4, as he and Gruenewald pushed F-M to a third-place team finish, with 154 points, ahead of Liverpool, who was seventh (220 points). Only Shenendehowa (98 points) and New York City Collegiate (151 points) fared better.
Of the other Hornets, senior Luke Fitzgibbons fared best, taking 32nd place in 16:38.8. Ben Kimple (17:20.8), Andy Sargrad (17:25.5), Paul Merriman (17:37.6) and Eric Snavely (18:31.7) were the other F-M runners.
The season is not over, either. F-M’s girls team has received an invitation to the Dec. 2 Nike Team Nationals in Portland, Ore., the third consecutive year a Hornet team is going to this event, following boys appearances in 2004 and ’05.
And the girls might not go there alone. If Gruenewald and King can finish among the top eight at this weekend’s Kinney Regional meet in New York City, they will advance to the Nike event, too.